Government papers recently released under the thirty years rule have shown how, during the 1960s, the British authorities were gravely worried by the links between popular music and organised crime. Indeed, in 1967 Scotland Yard launched a major operation to investigate these links. Much of the impetus behind this operation came from Detective Chief Inspector Jack “Smokey” Kipper, a former Flying Squad officer who had been involved in the investigation of the Great Train Robbery. “Jack was convinced that there was a solid link between rising crime figures and the increasing degeneracy of popular music”, recalls a colleague. “He firmly believed that most pop groups were simply fronts for money laundering, drug dealing and white slavery.” Kipper ‘s investigations into the Great Train Robbery had led him to believe that the true criminal masterminds behind it had escaped justice and taken on new identities as pop impresarios and performers, investing their ill-gotten gains in the music industry. “Its clear that the whole permissive society was created by these shadowy kingpins in order to create a market amongst young people for the porn and drugs that they peddle”, he told a House of commons Select Committee on crime in 1966. “Through popular music they have created a culture susceptible to their evil influence.”
Despite these strongly beliefs, Kipper was never able to actually unmask these crime lords, despite several attempts. In 1968 he caused a near riot when, during a recording of Top of the Pops, he stormed the studios and assaulted Ringo Starr during The Beatles historic performance of ‘Hey Jude’. He later claimed that Starr was in fact Ernie Stewart, a notorious East End gangster, and that he had been trying to rip off his obvious disguise of a false nose and beard. Later the same year Kipper turned his attentions to The Beatles’ main rivals, The Rolling Stones. “He was convinced that they had been responsible for a series of armed raids on jewellers’ shops in South London”, Fred Keenan, his former Sergeant, remembers. “The Flying Squad had strong evidence that the raids were the work of an all-female gang, but Jack was adamant that all the evidence pointed to the Rolling Stones.” Kipper’s assertions rested on the fact that there were five raiders, and that the Rolling Stones had five members, and the fact that one of the descriptions of the gang’s leader described her as having a wide mouth and full lips – obviously Mick Jagger. He also claimed that it was well-known that the Stones were degenerates who liked nothing better than dressing up in women’s clothes.
On the basis of his hunch, Kipper had the Rolling Stones arrested and questioned. He conducted Mick Jagger’s interrogation personally, employing brutal and unorthodox techniques in an effort to force a confession from the singer. “It was a terrifying experience”, Jagger later told the “New Musical Express” in an interview. “He produced these two heavy duty electrical leads with crocodile clips at each end and attached one end of each to a car battery. He then dropped his trousers and clamped the other ends to his own testicles. It was horrible, he was screaming in agony with his face contorting hideously! All his pubic hair fell out! There was nothing I could do, as I was handcuffed to a chair. He said he wouldn’t stop until I confessed. I can tell you, it was so harrowing I almost broke! At one stage I was so upset I would have confessed to anything! But somehow I held out. They had to carry him out on a stretcher. The stench of scorched hair and burning flesh was stomach turning. His scrotum was black and shrivelled by the end of it!”
Despite his failure to pin the robberies on the Rolling Stones, Kipper remained convinced of the group’s links to organised crime. “He really had it in for Jagger”, says Keenan. “It wasn’t so much the drugs, the endless parade of beautiful women or the money, so much as that business involving Marianne Faithfull and the Mars bar. Jack though it was despicable the way Jagger had perverted an innocent kiddies chocolate bar to sexual uses. He was worried that it would encourage children to stick chocolate bars up their arses and fannies.” Indeed, in August 1968 Kipper raided bass player Bill Wyman’s house and confiscated a hundred and eight assorted Mars bars, Marathons, Kit Kats and Twixes. Wyman later claimed that whilst he had had some chocolate on the premises, it definitely wasn’t that much, and that Kipper had planted the rest. Kipper had claimed that upon entering the premises he had caught Wyman in the act of shoving a King Size Milky bar up a young model’s backside. A Judge later ruled that even if Wyman had been doing this, which he denied, it was not an arrestable offence to shove confectionery up another consenting adult’s arse in the privacy of one’s own home.
The mysterious 1969 drowning of Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones served to fuel Kipper’s growing obsession. An underworld source apparently told him that Jones had been murdered after he had threatened to make public details of his homosexual affair with notorious gangland figure Reggie Kray. Kipper began a fruitless search for a series of photographs which allegedly showed Jones enjoying a three-in-a-bed romp with both Kray twins. Frank Cotter, a minor gangland figure of the time was interrogated by Kipper about the photos. “It was appalling”, says Cotter. “He forced me to beat him across his bare arse with a leather strap until it was red raw! But there was nothing I could tell him, no matter how much he made me thrash him!” After failing to locate the Brian Jones – Reggie Kray pictures, Kipper’s allegations against the Rolling Stones became progressively more wild – in 1970 he claimed that drummer Charlie Watts had died of a drugs overdose in 1968, but had been revived by Jagger using voodoo. Finally, late in 1971, Kipper was retired on medical grounds. Now aged 92, he is resident on a geriatric ward in a North London hospital and suffers convulsions whenever the Rolling Stones are played on the radio.